Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by Crowthorne, 26 Feb 2015.
A short RIBA article on the architecture of London Zoo
Favorite quote "it fully explores the sculptural possibilites of concrete. Unfortunately the pool proved to be unsuitable to the penguins, "
Yep, it could barely even house water voles
Personally I think its an absolute disgrace that London Zoo is hamstrung by these buildings and is not allowed to knock them down. London Zoo not only represents the city it represents the country and although not the biggest zoo should still be a major player in zoo husbandary, design and innovation.
The Mappins and elephant house should be flattened and the snowdon perhaps refurbished.
I find this an extraordinary comment.
The vandalism of knocking down old buildings is to be avoided, particularly amongst those who claim to be interested in conservation.
It is our history that makes us what we are. Lose that history, and we lose our soul.
It's not as if London Zoo is without space that is currently unused....
There are any number of first rate zoos.
There is only one London Zoo
Keeping the history of this site while creating a contemporary attraction and interesting collection may be a challenge, but it can and should be done.
The site is too small to rival the great zoos of the UK or Europe so it must define its own vision
I disagree it was a great zoo and had standing throughout Europe - but I agree I dont think it does now - I also agree it needs to define what it is going to do now hence some of the old buildings need to go
Really there is hardly any space in London Zoo . So what would you do with the Mappin terraces or the Elephant house severly under use them as they are now or the old penguin pool which is in fact a hole in the ground we can go and see it . I love London Zoo I believe in London Zoo but its time for change and what you are really against is change.
No, it isn't. Antwerp, Artis, Basle and Frankfurt are all smaller. As for the "great zoos of the UK" - well, London should not be attempting to rival Chester's collection of larger mammals, but then it doesn't need to. It has Whipsnade as a sister site.
As far as the listed structures are concerned, I can see uses for all, except the Lubetkin Penguin Pool. Is there no way that it could be dismantled and re-assembled in front of Tate Modern? They would be thrilled to have it, and that mass of dark red brick would echo the old Lion House, the original backdrop against which it was built.
Anyone interested in this subject should acquire a copy of 'The Buildings of London Zoo', by Peter Guillery. Especially interesting is the detail of the Mappin designs, particularly the underground 'goat chutes', corridors that run/ran from the caves in the goat hills, under the bear enclosures, and connected with the pig/deer yards in front of the pond at the bottom.
I agree that the Tecton penguin pool is the one exception amongst the buildings at Regent's park; aside from maybe short-clawed otters (had they done this several years ago, before building the current exhibit), there really isn't any species that could live here without problems. So, if there was ever an opportunity to move this as an architectural peice to another (non-zoological) site, I think that would be appropriate. But the Casson, Snowdon Aviary, Roundhouse and Mappin Terraces are all actually either innovative use of vertical space or built on a relatively small footprint. Should they ever have to be demolished on safety grounds (even this would be highly unlikely), the footprint left would not be a significant area.
Take the Mappin terraces for example in todays zoo a truely dreadful structure that housed bears and barbary sheep on the mountain - perhaps part of it could be saved but I'm sure once you started trying to dismantle it being concrete it would just crumble (the twin towers at Wembley) .That site could be cleared and you could have a super dooper combined reptile House and aquaruim(why London needs an aquaruim i dont know bu thats another arguement). The old reptile house could be refurbished as an indoor walkthrough tropical house - moving all the animals from the Clore site.
For me, a major part of any zoo trip is the history. This makes each zoo unique. Yes, old buildings and enclosures sometimes have to be bulldozed to make way for the new, that is what change is all about, but if a building can be re-used for a new species (I think the Bearded Pigs work well in the Casson), or maybe as a new area for visitors (such as a picnic area, cafe, museum etc), thats great. Also, if a building becomes too expensive to look after, draining money from animal care or conservation, or if it is deemed a health hazard, then by all means pull it down and start again. But, there is no reason to pull old buildings down just because they're old.
I agree with Sooty Mangabey, history is what makes us (and places) what they are
Apparently the only thing keeping the Mappins up is the aquarium!
It'll be interesting to see how the aquarium develops, considering Whipsnade will be getting their own one in 2016 with the second phase of the Cloisters development.
The site needs it's aquarium more than the lump of crumbling masonary it is holding up.
And you are forgetting the Menagerie du Jardin des Plantes which is as well smaller and stocked with historical buildings. In the end it is about choices and you can have perfectly well a world-class zoo at this space. Another zoo that is world-class and has used their historical buildings very creatively is Schonbrunn. These classical buildings can be an attraction on their own see b.e. in London the Blackburn Pavilion the birds in that setting is very well done. Only some of the building discussed here pose bigger challenges and probably will need a lot more money to get converted into top-class enclosures that give space for the original architecture.
yes I agree History should dictate to us how we behave in the future unfortunately us (humans) aren't very good at looking back at our own history because if we did we wouldn't be making the same mistakes again. anyhow before this gets all too heavy I think there is a positive we can take from this as well - is that our animal husbandary has improved and that includes the enclosures we keep animals in. Perhaps one day if they demolish the Mappins they could preserve the top of it and use it as a display or part of a display in the future
I agree with Crowthorne and sooty. London Zoo's history is its USP. That shouldn't mean turning it into a mausoleum.
A very senior London Zoo figure told me that the state of the Mappin Terraces' decay had been exaggerated. Granted this was twenty years ago, but I am inclined to scepticism on the subject. What certainly is a problem is the Aquarium. Opened in 1924, it is now, after heroic efforts on the part of its staff, able to use about 60% of its available exhibit space. I have to say that personally I think that there comes a point where you decide that you are throwing good money after bad.
If some of the office buildings on the Outer Circle - now approaching sixty years old, which is prehistoric in IT usage terms - could be put to other uses, ZSL would be far better off. In the long run, the Institute would surely be better sited at Whipsnade. Think of Bletchley Park, barely twenty minutes' drive from Whipsnade . It was chosen as the base for the Second World War Enigma code-breakers as being equidistant from London, Oxford and Cambridge, a fair comparison with the needs of the Institute.
I know I am thinking in very "blue sky" terms, but the main office block is the perfect place for an Aquarium within the ZSL sites. It could stay open when the Zoo itself closed, perfect both for visitors on dark winter evenings and evening functions at any time of the year. The present Aquarium could hold invertebrates, freeing up BUGS to retain its interpretative material on the role of ZSL and the zoo world generally, whilst holding rotating displays of art from within ZSL's own collection and elsewhere.
The Casson Pavilion could so easily be holding (say) Lowland Anoa and Visayan Warty Pigs on the rhino side, both conservation dependent species with viable EEP populations. The interior dens, currently holding mostly events animals, could so easily be holding a Calliosciurus squirrel, tree shrews, chevrotains or loris. The building itself could be a major showpiece, and the centre of a tropical Asian display, which could highlight ZSL's origins; bring Raffles' bust back into the heart of the Zoo, where it sat until the old Lion House came down in 1975!
And the Round House could be themed around New Zealand fauna. Kea on the outside, kiwi and Boobook Owl inside. That Meerkat display could so easily be glassed over and used for tuatara.
The Penguin Pool apart, all of the listed buildings could be put to use. Some might need more money than others, but the main requirement is imagination.
There is another requirement - permission! The Round House is Grade I listed, so I imagine it might be hard to get approval for any significant modifications. The others are Grade II, which ought to allow more flexibility.
I think these are interesting suggestions, although it would seem a shame to bail out of the modern facilities at BUGS and I'm not convinced that there is any positive way to use the interior of the Casson (but that may just be my prejudice). An Aquarium on the Outer Circle is particularly interesting to me - is the site big enough for a conventional 'Sea Life' type structure with a shark tunnel etc? Perhaps not, in which case ZSL could design an aquarium dedicated to the proper conservation of smaller species, rather than paying lip service as so many seaside showpieces do.
I think it would be an absolute tragedy if the Mappins were demolished, depending on their structural condition, surely an interesting, rare and quite spectacular number of species could be held there, after a thorough refit??
Moon bears, great apes, rare antelope??
Like the sound of this. Ties in with Sumatran tigers and Komodo dragons too, although I'm not sure how close they are to the Casson.
The historic angle ie Raffles, Darwin, Wallace etc and EDGE species is what ZSL should concentrate on. Doesn't mean that they don't have to have public-friendly exhibits like meerkats, squirrel monkeys or the farm, afterall the zoo is a business.
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